Dannon Oikos to return to the Super Bowl, This is from the 2012 advertisement.
Super Bowl ad fever is hitting absurdly early this year.
The National Football League's regular season hasn't even begun, but four major advertisers - and a fifth on tap early next week - have announced plans to advertise in the Super Bowl, which is five months off.
Tuesday, Dannon announced plans to advertise its Oikos Greek Yogurt brand in the game again, after a one-year absence. The yogurt maker joins Anheuser-Busch, Intuit and GM, which already have announced.
What's the rush? In three letters: ROI (return on investment).
"It's a little surprising it hasn't been this early in the past," says David Campanelli, director of national TV at Horizon Media.
Many Super Bowl advertisers are shelling out a record-high average price of $4 million per 30-second slot that Fox is reportedly charging. When the air is that thin, advertisers are under increasing pressure to justify their investments with sizable returns that can be documented.
"We want to make an investment where we can realize the growth that comes along with it," Dannon spokesman Michael Neuwirth says. That brand's sales have doubled since Oikos advertised in the Big Game two years ago, he says.
But there are plenty of other factors at play, too, say game advertisers and marketing experts:
• Get the hype. One big draw for Dannon announcing so early is "to be part of" all the advertising reporting that goes on well before the game, Neuwirth says.
• Package deals. Many advertisers purchased their Super Bowl ad time way back in May or June as part of larger package deals during the upfront TV buying season, so there's incentive to announce earlier, Campanelli says.
• Social strategies. The evolving world of social media strategies is nudging some marketers to announce early so they can start posting and interacting with consumers via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
• Beat the rush. GM's Chevrolet brand was influenced to announce early not only because of automaker competition, but because it wanted to announce its own plans and not read about it via comments from some ad agency, media buyer or network folks, spokeswoman Ryndee Carney says.
• Stand out. "We set our sights on the game nearly a year in advance to ensure we're putting out the best ads possible," says Paul Chibe, vice president of U.S. marketing at Anheuser-Busch.
• New York, New York. The 2014 Super Bowl will be played in Rutherford, N.J. The fact that the game takes place in the ad agency world's backyard "adds a little more to the already high visibility," media buyer Campanelli says.
Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY